Relaxation techniques help reduce stress and anxiety. Read the below article to get an insight into the various techniques that help reduce anxiety.
Life can be stressful and overwhelming at times. In the fast world, simple instances like grocery shopping, difficult challenges like financial instability, or facing a pandemic can cause anxiety that becomes difficult to manage. Stress is the body's response to unfavorable situations. Relaxation techniques are strategies that help manage stressful situations and reduce anxiety.
Stress is a physical and emotional change that occurs in the body due to challenging situations. When a person experiences stress, the fight-or-flight response is activated in the body, causing a panic attack or extreme anxiety. Stress causes uncomfortable symptoms like rapid breathing, an increase in the heart rate, and excessive sweating. Experts say that living a stress-free life is also not good; a small challenge is necessary to keep us going. However, extreme stress or frequent bouts of anxiety can become difficult for the person to handle.
Relaxation techniques help in stress reduction and management. They are a great way to cope with anxiety and decrease the effects of stress on the body and mind. These techniques help reverse the symptoms of stress, thereby causing a calming effect. They are easy to practice, free of cost, have little or no risk, and can be comfortably done in any place. Relaxation techniques help overcome both short-term stresses due to unavoidable situations and long-term stress due to diseases.
Making relaxation techniques a priority can help in reaping their benefits.
The following are the advantages of practicing relaxation techniques, which include:
Slowing down the heart rate.
Slowing of breathing rate.
Lowering blood pressure.
Controlling blood glucose levels.
Improvement of digestion.
Increasing blood flow to muscles.
Decreasing muscle tension.
Improving moods and focus.
Boosting of confidence.
Helping in getting quality sleep.
Decreasing the activity of stress hormones.
Maximum benefits are attained when relaxation techniques are combined with positive coping mechanisms like:
Eating healthy food.
Getting quality sleep.
Spending time in nature.
Reaching out to positive family members and friends.
A human reaction that occurs when we have stress is called anxiety. Too much anxiety can interfere with the quality of life. Relaxation techniques help ease anxiety and improve the body and mind functioning. These techniques work by refocusing the attention to something more calming. There are different types of relaxation techniques that can be tried. More importantly, the techniques followed must be made a part of life, especially in those with regular panic attacks or high anxiety levels. Though health care providers guide patients with complex techniques, simple relaxation techniques that are fairly easy to follow can be done by anyone.
The various relaxation techniques include:
1. Breathing Exercise - Breathing exercises help breathe slowly and deeply, thereby making the person feel more relaxed, refreshed, and energized. They also help clear the mind by shifting the focus from triggers that cause anxiety. Breathing exercises help decrease the heart rate, control the rhythm of breathing, and decrease muscle tension, thereby causing relaxation.
To practice the breathing exercise, the person should first sit in a comfortable and quiet place. Take slow, relaxed, and deep breaths with the nose and breathe out through the mouth. This technique should be repeated at least ten times or till the time the person feels relief from anxiety.
2. Visualization - Visualization involves painting a picture of a happy place in the mind. A place where the person feels happy, calm, and relaxed, be it real or imaginary. Sitting in a quiet place, closing the eyes followed by visualizing the place, at the same time, focusing on how the place feels, smells or sounds can help in better visualization of the place. Once in the “happy place,” focus must be placed on breathing slowly in and out. This helps a great deal in reducing anxiety. The person can visit the happy place in the mind whenever there is an anxiety attack.
3. Relaxation of Muscles - Progressive muscle relaxation involves tensing and relaxing groups of muscles. It can be worked out from the muscles of the head to the toe or vice versa. A group of muscles is tensed for five seconds, followed by relaxation for 30 seconds. This technique helps in becoming aware of the physical sensations.
4. Counting Techniques - Counting is a simple technique that helps ease anxiety and stress. It helps in shifting the focus to something else. Counting techniques can be followed by sitting in a quiet, comfortable place, closing the eyes, and starting counting slowly from 1 to 10 or 20 and repeating the same if necessary till the feeling of anxiety eases. It is easy to practice the technique in busy or crowded places, unlike the other techniques, which may be difficult to follow in public places.
5. Staying in the Present - Staying in the present involves practicing mindfulness, the ability to shift the focus from an anxious state of mind to the present moment, feeling the sound and smell of the environment around. Changing the focus multiple times from the body to the environment is found to help.
6. Interruption of Anxious Thoughts - Interrupting anxious thoughts can help cope with the stress. Shifting the thought process from something unpleasant to something nice that a person enjoy’s doing, like listening to a favorite song, thinking of the person they love, or reading a nice book, helps interrupt the flow of energy from anxiety to a calmer state of mind.
7. Yoga and Meditation - Yoga and meditation are ways practiced by many people to help cope with stress and anxiety. Yoga improves concentration and relaxes the body, whereas meditation causes a balanced, calm, and focused mind. These relaxation techniques can be practiced in the morning to feel refreshed or at the end of the day to get rid of stress built up throughout the day.
8. Self-Care Strategies: Practicing relaxation techniques along with self-care strategies like taking enough rest, following a healthy diet, taking good care of physical fitness, and having adequate social support when needed, help in reducing the frequency of anxiety attacks.
9. Autogenic Training - Autogenic training combined with breathing exercises and visualization help in reducing the heart rate and related stress. In this technique, pleasant words are repeated for each body part, focusing on the warmth and heaviness of the body parts. For example, my arms feel warm and heavy.
10. Exercise - Any kind of exercise like walking, hiking, jogging, or playing sports releases endorphins or “feel good” hormones into the body that help combat stress and anxiety.
11. Other Relaxation Techniques - Other techniques like massage therapy, art therapy, aromatherapy, or hydrotherapy can be tried along with basic relaxation techniques like breathing and visualization.
Anxiety can occur from simple to complex, unmanageable situations. A little amount of stress sometimes can be well tolerated by the body. However, recurrent episodes of stress and anxiety must be managed without a showing major impact on the body and lifestyle. Relaxation techniques help the body and mind handle stress without causing damage. This helps in leading a more peaceful and happy life. Also, apps like nature sound to a guided meditation can be followed for a good outcome. However, if anxiety interferes with day-to-day activities, a consultation with a mental health expert is recommended.
Last reviewed at:
14 Jun 2022 - 5 min read
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